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eMusic rattles ISPs over legal downloads

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The boss of Apple’s iTunes nearest rival eMusic has warned that recent deals struck between the music industry and UK internet providers could threaten the existence of legal sites.

eMusic CEO David Pakman told the Financial Times that ISPs could lure customers away from well-known digital music sites by offering their own legal download services.

"Our concern is that in order to obtain the co-operation of the ISPs, there seems to be a quid pro quo," said Pakman. "This is qualitatively different from licensing another half a dozen digital music businesses."

He claimed that the agreement inked in July between six UK ISPs, the BPI, and the Motion Pictures Ass. of America, to crack down on illegal downloading would “penalise the good guys, not the bad guys”.

Unsurprisingly, ISPs rebutted Pakman’s comments that they could encourage traffic to their own sites over the likes of eMusic, iTunes, Amazon and others.

"We have no plans to inhibit in any way the traffic of other legitimate music or content services, irrespective of whether we eventually offer our own," BT told the FT. BSkyB said: "It seems premature in the extreme to be warning of the consequences of something that doesn't even exist."

ISPs have in recent months been busily firing off threatening letters to customers they suspect of sharing copyright music over peer-to-peer networks with internet cut-off. ®

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